An homage occurs when an entertainer decides to pay tribute to artists that influenced his career, recording a piece of music with that recognizable persona or style. It’s more than simply covering an iconic selection from their catalog—an homage demonstrates what you’ve loved, admired, and learned. Louis and Dan (and the Invisible Band) have released The Greats, a collection that honors a host of their favorite inspirations.
Louis and Dan are friends, neighbors, and college professors. (Louis teaches musicology at St. Olaf College, and Dan teaches philosophy at Carleton College.) For their fourth CD, the duo reached into their collective shared musical memories. The 12 original tunes on The Greats range from the delightfully obvious (the title track sports Beach Boys harmonies) to the sublime (“Apple” celebrates Miss Nina Simone). “I’m a Giraffe” harkens back to the 1950s glory days of doo-wop. Fellow kindie artist Elliot Park guests on the Willie-Nelson-centric “Being Invisible.” Introduce your kids to a salsa beat on the eccentric pet song, “My Slug Doug.” Dan’s teen daughter Eleanor bemoans the life of the child of a kids’ music performer on the show tune “Please Be Normal”:
So you’ve got a decent voice, it’s not so bad when you sing
But you’ve really got to knock it off and stop rapping
You two dorks are middle-aged, Tupac’s rolling in his grave
Please be normal
And who says that light comedy can’t serve a serious purpose? Local social justice advocate and choral director Tesfa Wondemagegnehu is featured on “I Love to Sing” and “Put It on the Barbecue.” To honor Tesfa’s commitments to community engagement, Louis and Dan are donating all proceeds from album sales to two non-profits, KNOWN, Mpls (an audition-based, Twin Cities community youth choir) and the Poor People Campaign. Louis and Dan push their Invisible Band to new heights on The Greats, and your kids should have a great time getting acquainted with a variety of diverse inspirations.
Born and raised in New York (with a brief sojourn in New Jersey during his preteen years), Jeffrey Cohen lives in New York with his two sons. He has reviewed children's music for the past 14 years on his own blog. Jeff's podcast, "MrJeff2000 Explains It All" is available through iTunes.